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Baseball’s Shohei Ohtani accuses his interpreter of stealing millions

The ‘greatest baseball player of all time’ denies involvement in illegal wagers as federal investigators probe the interpreter’s betting activities.

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READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

Shohei Ohtani, whom some call not only the greatest baseball player of all time but even the greatest athlete, is at the centre of a media storm after alleging that his former interpreter stole from his bank account to pay an illegal bookmaker.

The Guardian reports that the Japanese star of the Los Angeles Dodgers team made the  accusation after the interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, told ESPN that Ohtani had agreed to pay off his employee’s gambling debts, apparently totalling more than US$1 million. The bets were reportedly made in California, where gambling is illegal.

Ohtani’s lawyers then denied Mizuhara’s claim, issuing a statement that said the baseball player had been victim of a “massive theft” orchestrated by Mizuhara – who was promptly fired. 

Mizuhara is now under criminal investigation by the US federal government’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over Ohtani’s allegations, the Guardian says.

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Major League Baseball players like Ohtani are prohibited from betting on baseball and face a lifetime ban from the league if found to be wagering on their own team. 

Ohtani has vehemently denied betting on baseball himself, or asking anyone else to do so on his behalf. “Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies,” he said, in his first public comments since the scandal broke. “[I am] beyond shocked, it’s hard to verbalise how I am feeling at this point.”

Mizuhara has since claimed he had lied to ESPN, and said that Ohtani had no idea about his gambling debts. “I want everyone to know Shohei had zero involvement in betting,” he said.

The translator had worked for Ohtani since he moved from Japan to the US in 2018, to play for the Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani joined the Dodgers last December, with a 10-year contract worth US$700 million.

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